MOSCOW, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak does not consider it possible to give more gas price discounts to Ukraine, according to his interview with Forbes magazine.
“No, I think,” the minister said answering a question on if Russia’s energy giant Gazprom would further discount its gas price to Kiev.
Ukraine’s demand for more discounts is odd, Novak added. "It's like you go to a store, take goods, use them as intended and then say: ‘I'll pay what I want.’ Have you seen something like that? Having this in mind, what is special about [introducing] a prepayment system?” the minister said.
Alexander Novak reiterated that Russia is not interested in further deteriorating the situation. "We do not want any escalation of the conflict, we do not want to be blamed for a situation in which Ukraine, because of its non-payment, is not getting gas and transit risks for gas deliveries to European consumers emerge," the Russian energy minister said.
Starting Monday, Gazprom was forced to enact a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine after talks on the new price and debt payments mediated by EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger failed.
Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia has been building since 2013, when the country found itself amid a deep political crisis. According to the latest estimates, Ukraine owes Russia $4.46 billion in unpaid bills, and has been running up more debt at a rate of some $1 billion per month.
The gas negotiations between Moscow and Kiev have largely been dominated by Ukraine trying to leverage reliance on its gas pipelines in the disagreement over price changes for imported Russian gas, effective April 1, when Moscow cancelled two major discounts, raising the price to $485 per thousand cubic meters.